Blog 23: What Is Abuse?

Have you been or are you currently a victim of abuse?

This is a tough topic.

We will explore the grey areas and the results might surprise many of us that BELIEVE that we are in a non-abusive relationship.

I have witnessed or counselled people on almost every aspect and type of abuse without ever realizing the nuances of abuse- never truly connecting all the dots for myself.

Did you ever wonder what happens when the cheerleader marries the football player? This post was inspired by a friend that confessed to me that she has been living in fear and has been the recipient of brutal physical attacks over the last twenty years. It sickened me to hear this. I told her that this is not how anyone should live and encouraged her to contact several different agencies and groups for assistance. She was EMBARRASSED to let others know of her situation. I could not fathom how someone could risk serious person injury or even death because of ego.

I found a wonderful brochure in a waiting room that everyone should read. It is simply entitled “ARE YOU COOL?” (Yes, the title appealed to my ego and I think that I am very cool.) The brochure was reprinted by the YWCA and copies can be ordered through METRAC. Inside was a quiz that went as follows: (I included my own answers from all my previous relationship experiences as I was not in a relationship when I took this quiz.)

Relationship Quiz

In a relationship, have you ever experienced:

  1. physical violence?

YES ____ or NO ____

(I had to answer YES even though she was drunk.)

 

  1. threats that your partner will leave you if you don’t do what he/she asks?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

 

  1. being kept away from your family and friends?

YES ____ or NO ____

(NO.)

 

  1. not being able to look at or speak to other males/females?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

 

  1. having to justify your whereabouts?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

 

  1. your partner using guilt trips to get his/her own way?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

 

  1. not being able to go out without your partner?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

 

  1. any put-downs about your physical appearance?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

 

  1. your partner never being satisfied with you?

YES ____ or NO ____

(NO; that I am aware of.)

 

  1. fear or intimidation by your partner?

YES ____ or NO ____

(NO.)

 

  1. being treated badly or humiliated in front of your friends or family?

YES ____ or NO ____

(Again I was forced to answer YES.)

If you answered YES to one or more questions, you may be in an unhealthy relationship.

“Well DUH!” went through my mind. I learned from these relationships and wrote a book about my misadventures. The mere fact that I have personally experienced EIGHT of a possible ELEVEN did shock me a little though. I am a six foot three inch tall guy that is in good physical condition, weighing in at two-hundred pounds and very capable in a fight, as my early bad boys years proved.

I never thought of myself as a VICTIM until I read this.

On the inside of the brochure is a relationship thermometer that ranges from COOL (blue healthy zone) to WARM (amber warning zone) and finally to HOT (red danger zone). Again I would ask myself if I had ever experienced any of these, but this time I would also ask myself if I had actually DONE any of these.

ARE YOU COOL?

Is your relationship healthy?

Find your relationship on the thermometer…

IN THE BLUE HEALTHY ZONE:

Responsibility- Do you and your partner make decisions and solve problems or conflicts together? (Typically, YES.)

Trust- Do you and your partner respect each other’s feelings, wishes and opinions and do you support each other? (Typically, YES.)

Honesty- Do you and your partner accept responsibility for your actions and talk openly and honestly with each other? (Typically, YES.)

Fairness- Do you and your partner work through conflict so that both of you are satisfied and are you each willing to compromise? (QUESTIONABLE- I believe there is a fundamental problem here. I do not believe that people who compromise can also be satisfied. I wrote at length about the word compromise in my book and how it usually means that one party makes more concessions than the other, or capitulates completely to avoid an escalating conflict.)

No Threats- Do you and your partner talk, act and resolve conflicts in ways that make you both feel comfortable and safe? (Typically, YES.)

Financial Partnership- Do you and your partner share financial decisions and responsibilities? (YES.)

Respect- Do you and your partner respect each other’s feelings, opinions and differences? (Typically YES.)

 

IN THE AMBER WARNING ZONE:

Blame & Denial- Does your partner blame you for making the abuse happen, avoid personal responsibility or deny that there is a problem? (YES, I have had partners with these traits.)

Jealousy- Does your partner check up on you or act jealously or possessively towards you? (YES, I have had this happen to me.)

Control- Does your partner boss you around, give orders, or make all the decisions? (NO, I have not had this happen to me but YES I make my wishes clear when a woman moves into MY place, I expect that it remains my place. However, on the few occasions where we got a place together and were both contributing financially, it became OUR place and had to respect her choices… however bad they may be- especially in the areas of decor and household purchases. If this makes me a control freak, so be it. I like what I like.)

Criticism- Does your partner criticize your appearance, your ideas, your family and your friends, or purposely embarrass you in front of others? (This one is an eye-opener: YES, I have been with critical partners and YES I have been critical of my partner at times. How do you encourage growth and change without criticizing? I had an epiphany here. Perhaps my problem is an unwillingness to accept partners for who they are and whoever they might become- to love their soul and ignore all else. I doubt that I can fix this defect in myself. This may be why I choose to remain unattached.)

Fear- Does your partner have a quick temper, a history of mistreating others, threaten suicide or make you feel afraid? (YES, I once had a partner that threatened suicide but I called her bluff and she did not hurt herself. NO, I do not believe I have used fear as a means of control.)

Force- Does your partner force you to do things that you don’t want to do and make you feel guilty if you disagree? (NO, I have never been forced into anything but YES guilt has been used to manipulate me into doing things I did not want to do. NO, I have never used force against my partner and I consciously avoid using guilt as a weapon to get what I want.)

 

IN THE RED DANGER ZONE:

Physical Abuse- Does your partner slap, push or kick you? (NO.)

Sexual Abuse- Does your partner force you to be involved in sex against your will? (NO.)

Financial Abuse- Does your partner control all the money and how it is spent? (NO.)

Threats & Intimidation- Does your partner threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, pets or scare you with looks, actions or suicidal behaviour? (NO.)

Emotional & Verbal Abuse- Does your partner shout, yell, put you down, call you names or make you feel badly about yourself. (This is interesting. Women have shouted, yelled, put me down, called me names but rarely, if ever, made me feel badly about myself. My self-esteem is not fragile. Arguments will get heated sometimes and YES I have raised my voice out of frustration but to the others I would answer NO.)

Isolation- Does your partner control where you go and when or keep you from family and friends? (NO.)

The brochure concluded with:

HEALTHY or UNHEALTHY?

Having a partner (boyfriend/girlfriend) can be an exciting and important time in your life. If your relationship with your partner is a HEALTHY one, you and your partner will feel good about yourselves and value each other. However, sometimes relationships can be HURTFUL and have a negative effect on your feelings of self-worth and self-confidence. This can happen if your partner is abusive towards you. If this is the case, you are in an UNHEALTHY relationship. Remember, being on your own is also a healthy way to be. Having a partner is not a necessary part of life. Discovering life for yourself can be exciting and rewarding.

What is abuse?

Abuse is being hit, slapped or pushed around. It can also be invisible and leave no marks. Emotional and verbal abuse can be terrifying and equally dangerous.

Does your relationship include abuse?

You may feel that it’s your fault if things aren’t working out. Sometimes living with abuse seems better than being alone. You may hope that your partner will change and the abuse will stop – chances are, things will get worse! This happens to many people – you are not alone and IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! Remember, all forms of abuse are attempts to control. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE, BE YOURSELF, TAKE CHARGE!

What the pamphlet did not delve into is where abuse comes from.

  • It can be a learned behavioural trait. Being a witness to abuse as a child can lead to being abusive as an adult. To these individuals, abuse has become accepted as being NORMAL.
  • It can come from brain injury and brain chemical imbalance. Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder commonly lead to abuse. In some cases, the treatments work but many patients will quit taking their medications or abuse substances that counteract the effects or the medications. If the abuse begins years into an otherwise normal relationship, the victims often stick it out in the hope that things will somehow return to the way they once were.
  • Jealous possessives are people that are very insecure. They usually have low self-esteem or low self-worth because of the emotional damage they carry with them that could have begun in their childhood with bullying, been imparted into them by the educational system or their family members.
  • Psychopaths have trouble understanding right from wrong. They are usually identified and hopefully treated. There is only a very small percentage of violence from persons with psychological disorders despite what movies and the media tell us. Most people with mental disorders are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

Settling is the first problem. We make bad relationship decisions based on our self-worth with the romantic, but unrealistic notion that we can change the person we select into our ideal mate. From there it is fear of loss that makes us stay in unhealthy relationships as well as a warped acceptance of the unhealthy relationship as time goes by- eventually, IT JUST BECOMES NORMAL.

Not everyone looks very hard at themselves to try to understand their behaviour. Most people will take the easiest path in life, which often results in them living in an abusive environment and raising children there. This perpetuates abuse generation after generation. It is very sad.

What does it take to remove one’s self from an abusive relationship?

  • BRAVERY- you must believe that a better life can be had despite your insecurities.
  • PATIENCE- you must realize that it probably took some time to get you into this situation and it may take a while to get yourself out of it.
  • HELP- few people just pack a bag, get on a bus and leave forever. Most have to get in touch with family, friends and most importantly… the AUTHORITIES on the subject like police, counsellors, groups and organisations that specialize in this area.
  • HONESTY- You must tell everyone what has been happening to you. It will not be easy and some will wonder why you let things get so bad before doing something about it. Others will just open their doors to you. This honesty will afford you some safety. An abuser that is found out is less likely to do anything that could get them in trouble with the authorities.
  • PLANNING- with the guidance of social workers or other PROFESSIONALS, you will be able to leave for somewhere safer without having to worry about the details of your former home.

 

My book:

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

Life with Women: the long awaited instruction manual.

Talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics- even physics as well as HOW HAPPINESS IS ATTAINABLE.

 

I will spend the next little while trying to understand why I persist in writing about tough subjects.

Hopefully, something funny will be the inspiration for the next one.

Until then remember “Life is what YOU make of it.”

E. A.

 

Advertisements

Published by

E. A. Barker

About the Author E. A. Barker is an under-achieving, occasionally brilliant, man-child now in mid-life who can get into High IQ sperm-banks the world over. He is a keen observational analyst, satirist, humorist, and researcher. He lacks doctorates in psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, medicine, genetics, theology, political science, sociology and physics and is completely okay with this; yet he is willing to challenge these experts to wake up and do better. E. A. believes he is an average guy in mid-life who has led a mostly average life. His readers may not agree with his assessment. The single biggest difference between him and most other people is his relentless pursuit of knowledge. Throughout his life he never stopped asking the simplest question: Why? E. A. thinks of himself as a collector of ideas and a purveyor of dot connections. He attempts to present his findings in an entertaining fashion in an effort to encourage people to read—especially men who are reading far too little these days. E. A. Barker is an advocate of education for its ability to affect societal reform and actively promotes the idea that a global conscience is possible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s